Eclipse Director Targets Microsoft

The Eclipse Foundation's new director thinks it's high time Microsoft joined.

The newly independent Eclipse Foundation is looking to broaden and expand its membership, not only in the Java space but also far beyond, to perhaps Javas biggest competitor—Microsoft Corp.

In an interview last week with eWEEK, Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich said an invitation has been extended to Microsoft to join the open-source initiative and to help evolve development of the platform. In fact, Milinkovich said, an invitation was extended to Microsoft before he took the helm and before Eclipse was made independent.

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Should Microsoft join, it would be a major step toward unifying the two major competing development platforms: Java and .Net.

While observers downplay the likelihood of Microsofts joining Eclipse, Milinkovich tends to think the organizations new directions might tempt Microsoft to look more closely. For example, Eclipse is embarking on an initiative called the Web Tools Platform Project, which will focus on Web services and SOAs (service-oriented architectures), two areas in which Microsoft has taken a leadership role.

"Were just in the process of kicking off our Web tools project," Milinkovich said. "And underneath the banner of that project, were going to be doing some work in the area of Web services and service-oriented architectures that I think might be more applicable to the current strategic direction for Microsoft."

"The issue with Eclipse Web Tools today appears to be whether to make it Java-centric or to have a language/ platform-neutral approach alongside a Java approach," said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass. "That neutral approach would support PHP, ASP.Net and others and thus wouldnt focus in particular on Microsoft technology support."

But that neutrality just might be enough perhaps to woo Microsoft to at least take a look, Milinkovich said.

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